Honourable Folasade Faparusi Akinrinmola, the Chairman of Gbonyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State, is the only female out of the fifteen local government chairmen in the state. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, the Honourable who has a Diploma in Marketing from Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Ekiti State University, who is also a business woman and farmer speaks on the need for women to participate in politics, among other issues.
What other things do you aside from politics?
I am a poultry and cassava farmer. I have a gift and a wholesale drink shop. I make gifts that suit customers’ purpose. At my gift shop, you don’t have to buy ready made gifts. If you tell me the type of event you want to attend, I can always put something together that will be suitable for that event.
How did you get into farming?
It wasn’t that I love farming but when Engineer Segun Oni was governor of Ekiti State, he introduced school feeding and said his administration would give a child one egg per day, I felt there would be more demands for eggs in Ekiti State, so I quickly developed one of my lands in Ekiti and put a penthouse and stocked it with lots of lifestock for egg production, that was how I got into farming. Also, I decided to plant cassava in my compound so that I won’t have to spend money on labourers to clear the compound every time.
What were the challenges you faced when you went into farming?
The major challenge was getting people to work on the farm because farming is not something one can do alone. Most young people don’t want to work anymore, they prefer to beg. So getting dedicated staff was a challenge. Another challenge that it is time consuming. When I was into it fully, it was difficult for me to do other things. When I wanted to start campaigning for this position, I had to stop it for a while but now that I have stabilised I have put it back together again.
With the economic situation of the country now, would you advise more women to go into farming?
I think farming is the only solution to our problem now. When you can feed yourself and your immediate family, the problem is half solved. The way things are going now, we all need to sit down and think of what to do to survive the economic hardship. Farming is the only solution because you don’t need much to start, by the time you plant two or three seeds of maize, when you want to harvest, you won’t be able to count what you will get, so, aside from being able to feed yourself and still have some to sell. I think every woman should have a farm now, even if it is a small one at our backyard. We should be able to plant the things we need on a daily basis like tomatoes, pepper, vegetables, fruits and so on. There was a time a basket of tomatoes was sold for N80, 000. If you had it in your garden at that time, you won’t give yourself headache on how to get money to buy it. Also, you can buy three or four birds like chicken and turkey and start rearing them. When you do, during festivals you can take one chicken and pluck some pepper and cook them for your family, they will be well fed. So, I think it is one of the good businesses we can do though it is a bit strenuous. If you are not lazy, you will be able to cope.
What motivated you to go into politics?
I didn’t know what politics was all about when I got into it. I came into politics through my gift business and printing work. It was some of the samples I did that somebody took to the governor of Ekiti State, Dr Peter Ayodele Fayose. He saw the samples of the wall clock and towel I did for Ogunlewe in Lagos then and was thrilled by the designs and asked to see me. When I got to him, he said: “Young girl, are you sure you were the one that did all these?” And I said yes. He then asked me if I could train some young people in Ekiti and I said yes. He also asked me to do some souvenirs for his campaign which I did. From there, he started giving me jobs. Each time I went to Ekiti and he was busy, he would ask me to attend to some people instead of sitting down and asked them what they want from him. When I give him the feedback, he will tell me how to respond to them. From there I started learning how to interact with people. He won the election and I was made the supervisor for health in 2003. It was when I was a supervisor that I developed interest in politics and decided to contest for an elective position. I contested for the House of Assembly, I lost the party’s ticket because the party decided to give the ticket to a man. It was then I decided to buckle up to try another time. I contested again this year for the local government chairmanship position and by the grace of God and the support of the governor, I won.
How has the journey been so far?
It has been so challenging because people don’t want a change or because people want things done the old way they have been doing it but they want a new result. It is not possible to do things the old way and want different result. It is also challenging because people are not dedicated and they believe government’s job should be done with levity. Also, it is challenging because they feel women don’t have anything upstairs. But I want to tell you that in Ekiti today, the records are there. Our people can testify to the little we have done in our local government. Being a local government chairman is a good office that women need to occupy because when you are there, you are closer to the grassroots especially mothers and you are able to see what their pains are as well as the other side of life. If you are a senator or governor, you won’t be able to see what the people are going through. Being a local government chairman is challenging but with God, we are getting there.
Do you feel intimidated being the only female local government chairman?
I don’t see myself as a female because the position is not meant for the gender. It has to do with what you have to bring to the table. When we are together and I want to talk, they give me audience. Being a woman doesn’t make me feel inferior. I believe any woman who can carry a child for nine months, who can keep her family together is not a pushover. I believe the woman do most of the things that make a home and a nation. So, there is no intimidation, I didn’t get this position on a silver platter. I worked hard for it, even more than the men did. I campaigned and did everything I needed to do so that people can know that I am serious. So, I got here through hard work, the help of God, the support of my governor, my party and my people.
How have you been combining your political career with the home front?
It is very challenging. The only thing I see in it is that before you can go into politics fully, the children must be grown up. My last baby is rounding off with her Master’s degree at the University of Ibadan. I know it will be more challenging for a nursing mother. By the time you have children in the university, you and your spouse ought to have understood one another. So it is better off and stress-free when the children are grown up so I have little or no challenges to cope with.
What do you think can be done so that we can have more women in elective positions in 2019?
We have to be determined and have a personal conviction that we need more women in politics, which is the starting point. Also when we get into politics, we should be able to comport ourselves. Aside that, we should be skilful; we should have a means of income before going into politics. We should try to upgrade ourselves and not see ourselves as object of pity, men and women were born same way. We should not expect things to be handed to us on a silver platter because we are women rather, we should work hard for what we want. We still have a long way to go because not many women want to face challenges. One cannot fail in life until personally you believed you have failed. So it is only what you permit that can happen to you.
Women at the helms of affairs are said to be difficult to work with. What do you have to say about that?
It is because women are straight forward, down-to-earth and officious. We don’t compromise and because seventy per cent of women don’t like scandal, so we always want to do things right. It is very difficult for a woman to hang out and use her money to buy drinks. A woman wants to put resources together to do things and because we have a lot of men working for us, they don’t see things the way we see it. Personally, as a chairman, if I see N50, 000, there are lots of things I can use it to do within the local government that can be of more advantage than buying drinks. It is difficult for a woman to compromise. Maybe one out of ten women will ask for bribe. I am sorry to say this but it is the opposite sex that wants money at all cost.